Freeman Brothers was first established as a funeral director in Horsham, West Sussex, in 1855. The company remains independent, and now has a further three offices – in Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint – across the county. Death tends to remain a taboo subject in the UK, and Freeman Brothers is proud to operate transparently. One of our most frequently asked questions is what to do when someone dies. Becky explains here…
As an experienced funeral director, we often find that our customers are apologetic when they don’t know what the process of arranging a funeral involves. Explaining it is never something which bothers us, as we’re happy to inform people of how things in our industry work. Whilst it is an everyday occurrence for us to arrange funerals, the same is not true for our customers, and we recognise this. Things also have changed a little during the last few years, and our working practices have – for now at least – re-stabilised, so we thought that we’d provide an outline.
Doing so does require us to make some assumptions, as there are a few different circumstances which determine the process of arranging a funeral, though some steps are consistent no matter what. The scenario outlined below will assume that the person who has died didn’t not take out a prepaid funeral plan, and died expectedly at a private residence. The information given will also pertain to deaths which occur in England and Wales – laws in other devolved nations vary slightly.
When someone you know dies
With the above details in mind, the first thing to do when someone dies is for the death to be verified. A healthcare professional must do this, completing some simple checks. Once this has been done, the person who has died can be taken into the care of a funeral director. We are able to do so at any time of day or night, and will aim to attend as soon as possible. Should you wish to have some time with the person who has died first, this is entirely acceptable too.
All we require is a short phone call to notify us of the death, that the death has been verified, and the address we will need to visit. If the person who has died lived in a care home, staff there would make this call. This is what we refer to in the funeral industry as a ‘first call’.
Taking further details regarding funeral arrangements
If the death has occurred during the night or a weekend, we will request to speak with you again the following working day in order to take further details. On a weekday, a colleague will be available to do this straight away.
The details we require at this point are simple and include: full name and address of the person who has died; contact details for their next of kin (including an email address); date of birth, date and place of death, and which GP surgery they are registered with; whether they are going to be buried or cremated, and where this might take place. If you are aware of further specifics – such as who you’d like to take the service and any dates you need to avoid, we are happy to note these at the same time, but they aren’t essential.
After this call takes place, we will follow up via email with some information regarding decisions still to be made. We are continuing to offer both a remote and in-person funeral arranging service.
Next steps for funeral arrangements
As the death in this instance was expected, the next thing that would happen would be for the person’s GP to complete paperwork known as the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (or MCCD). Many GPs will now email this directly to the local Registrar. We advise that you call the Surgery to establish when the paperwork is likely to be ready, and to then make an appointment to register the death for after this date. It is also a good opportunity to check whether you will need to collect the MCCD or it will be emailed to the Registrar.
Once you have an appointment to register the death, please let us know when that is, as we will then be able to discuss provisional dates with you and proceed with early arrangements.
After the death has been registered
We will then be able to confirm funeral arrangements with you. The Registrar will provide a Green Form in order to enable the funeral to go ahead – again, this will often now be emailed directly to your nominated funeral director. Decisions would now need to be made regarding coffin, transport, and other personalisations such as music to be played and a charity to receive donations.
From here, you will liaise with ourselves, and whoever you have decided you would like to take the service, to ensure that you are prepared for the day.
Once the funeral has taken place
When the funeral is booked, we will take a deposit payment – this amounts to the third-party fees that we must pay – with the final account being sent to you a week after the funeral. If you have any further questions following the funeral, we are happy to do our best to help you – we can advise on keepsake products such as jewellery and, thanks to our sister company, J. Gumbrill, can also supply you with stonework memorials.